Back­lash over Lon­don Uber ban

Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD - The Times

The mayor of Lon­don is at the cen­tre of a pub­lic back­lash af­ter trans­port au­thor­i­ties banned Uber from op­er­at­ing in the city.

More than 335,000 peo­ple signed a pe­ti­tion within hours of the an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day, call­ing on Sadiq Khan to over­turn a de­ci­sion to strip the world’s big­gest ride-hail­ing app of its li­cence.

Busi­ness lead­ers re­acted by say­ing Lon­don was be­ing run by ‘‘Lud­dites’’. Trans­port for Lon­don (TfL), which is chaired by Khan, was ac­cused of ‘‘crony­ism’’ by bow­ing to pres­sure from trade unions and black cab driv­ers who have waged a cam­paign against Uber for years.

The de­ci­sion has also placed the fu­ture of the com­pany’s tens of thou­sands of driv­ers in Lon­don un­der threat.

TfL said Uber, which is used by 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple in Lon­don – more than any other Euro­pean city – was no longer a ‘‘fit and proper’’ op­er­a­tor. It ac­cused the com­pany of fail­ing to re­port se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fences, check driv­ers’ crim­i­nal records or en­sure driv­ers were med­i­cally fit.

Last month the Metropoli­tan Po­lice sug­gested that the com­pany was putting its rep­u­ta­tion be­fore pub­lic safety by al­low­ing a driver to con­tinue work­ing de­spite fac­ing a sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tion.

Uber said it was ‘‘as­tounded’’ by the rul­ing, which is due to come into force at the end of next week, and vowed to lodge an ap­peal that will be heard by West­min­ster mag­is­trates’ court within 21 days, giv­ing the com­pany a stay of ex­e­cu­tion. Any re­fusal to re­in­state its li­cence will prompt an ap­peal to a se­nior court, rais­ing the prospect of a lengthy le­gal bat­tle.

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